Brandon shares our favorite appetizer for date night in and dinner parties. So simple yet so amazingly delicious!
How many appetizers do you make when you prepare a date night in dinner? Yes, appetizers. Plural.
Appetizers are awesome and a great way to tide your appetite until the main course is ready. They’re also a great way to experiment with new ingredients and flavors with little risk since you, hopefully, have something else amazing coming. I love simple apps that can be thrown together quickly, so as soon as Batman finishes riding 4-wheelers in Oklahoma and eats his last hot dog and pizza in New York (as you can see, we don’t read stories in our house, we make them up!), we can be eating something to go with our wine or cocktails in less than 15 minutes.
These dates are my go-to and they crush it every time. As The BakerMama would say, “A creamy and slightly tart mascarpone filling surrounded by a warm, sweet toasted date topped with a drizzle of rich olive oil and a pinch of sea salt combine so many amazing flavors in something so simple that you won’t be able to eat just one.” Yeah, what she said. 😉
I first had these at the restaurant Komi in Washington DC celebrating the end of a project with one of my teams. (Side note: If you are looking for an unforgettable meal in DC, look no further than Komi. One of the top 5 meals I’ve ever had.) After my first bite, I knew I had to recreate them at home, which is something you’ll see quite a bit from me. The key to recreating these is the Greek yogurt. Without the yogurt, you don’t get that slight tartness and mascarpone cheese alone may be a bit too runny out of the oven. Make sure you also use fresh whole dates as the pre-pitted dates are usually dried out and not nearly as flavorful.
They’re awesome! Enjoy!
- 12 fresh whole dates (I usually plan on 3 per person)
- ¼ cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (do not use fat free, I prefer Fage 2%)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fleur de sel (or other high quality salt)
- Take your fresh dates and cut a small slit across the top from end to end. Lightly squeeze the date and pry out the seed with the knife.
- In a small bowl, mix together the mascarpone cheese and yogurt until well blended. (If you can increase the amount of yogurt to up to 2 tablespoons if you like it more tart.)
- Fill each date with the yogurt-mascarpone mix. I usually use the tip of my knife to do this. I generally overfill a bit and then swipe my finger across the top to clean it up a bit.
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Put the filled dates in the refrigerator while the oven preheats.
- Once the oven has preheated, place the dates on a cookie sheet and bake on the middle or upper rack of your oven for 10 minutes. Remove dates from the oven and cool for 1-2 minutes.
- Place the dates on your serving platter and then finish each one with a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of fleur de sel or other nice salt. Try to be generous with the salt as it really adds a nice complexity to the dish.
- *Expert tip: When you eat the date, flip it upside down and put the entire thing in your mouth. Similar to how sushi chefs recommend you eat nigiri sushi, when you eat the date this way the richness of the salt and olive oil hit your tongue first followed by the creamy cheese and then sweet date.
- Serving: plan for 3 dates per person